Thursday, December 4, 2008
Šedu and lamassu were the names of benevolent demons in Mesopotamia. In Assyrian palaces, some of the more important gates and doorways had monolithic sculpted jambs representing striding winged bulls or lions with a human face. While the image of the human-headed bull is common in the Assyrian iconography, the architectural application may derive from Anatolia, where carved jambs had been used by the Hittites (see BOGHAZKÖY, ALAÇA HÜYÜK). Their purpose in the words of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon was ‘to turn back an evil person, guard the steps and secure the path of the king who fashioned them’ (Ash.62f). The Achaemenians took over the theme of the winged guardians, interpreted in the more dynamic manner of their art (see Gate of Xerxes, PERSEPOLIS).
Edzard, D.O. (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie VI (Berlin, New York 1980–83) 447